Nothing’s a Ritual


HolyGrail024I just finished a book called, “The Shack.” For the 3 of you out there who haven’t gotten around to reading it, or just plain, don’t read—it’s a book about encountering the God of the universe in a very real way at an old, beaten down shack.

Now, before some of you late night, armchair theologians start jumping down my throat because you’ve heard from Mark Driscoll or someone else that the book is a theological wasteland (love ya, Mark, but lighten up, will ya?)—I’m not using it to develop sermons anymore than I use, “The Hobbit” to understand short people. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good read—it is. Anything that helps people understand that God wants a relationship rather than rituals and religion is worth at least a second glance.

Ok, sails deflated? Let’s move on.

Actually, there’s a whole lot more to this book than what I wrote above, but this post isn’t about a book review, it’s about one of the many powerful things I learned in this intriguing read by author, William P. Young. This particular little something reminded me of just how important it is to clarify that none of the spiritual habits and rituals we go through on the spiritual journey as a Christ follower is intended to be a mere item on a checklist. For example…

Daily devotions

You’ll often hear me at Southbrook Church or through the podcasts speak of the importance of daily time in the Bible with God. I also harp on the importance of talking to God throughout the day—everyday.

But not so you can check them off in your day runner each evening!

If these things are ever reduced to that than you are left with rituals rather than relationship and nothing could be worse or a greater waste of your life. No, when it comes to the spiritual habits, disciplines, routines, or whatever—they are only as valuable as they are helpful at driving you ever closer to Christ. If they don’t do this, dump’m.

That’s right, quit doing them—at least for a season or until you can approach them with the right heart. Again, God isn’t interested in rituals.

Here’s another one as an example.

Hate Tithing?

Then stop doing it (Did I really just read a pastor saying, ‘Stop tithing?!).

Yep. If you are just grudgingly going through the motions in order to sharpen up your spiritual resume—you’re wasting your time. God doesn’t need your money, he wants your heart and, if you’re giving with a bad attitude, He obviously doesn’t have it, so quit!

Nothing’s a Ritual!

 Maybe if I put it another way…

What if I told my wife to meet me at 6:00 am every morning for 10 minutes of scheduled conversation—first I’ll listen until my watch alarm goes off, and then she must spend the next 10 minutes listening to me until it goes off again. At the end of this time she sees me open up my day runner and check off, “time spent with the wife.”

What do you think her reaction to this type of ‘relationship’ would be?

Uh, huh.

So why do we pull this junk with God?

Daily devotions is good. The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing…and many other things that are usually quite helpful for fostering and deepening relationship. BUT, the moment it drifts into no man’s land and starts going ritualistic on us—stop, drop and roll.

Nothing’s a Ritual.


P.S. Just a reminder that I will not be at Southbrook Central this weekend because I am preaching over at our Monroe campus. Still looking for a lot of you to head on over to Benton Heights Elementary School for the 10:00 am celebration service and a chance to fellowship with the Southbrook family in Monroe—THIS  WEEKEND. If you can make it, click here and add your comment.

Thanks, see you there!